The iPhone SE’s formidable specs and sensible pricing (starting at $399) has created a new threat for Android OEMs, which have so far monopolized the mid-range market. The new ‘budget’ iPhone even seems to have prodded Samsung into action. The world’s largest smartphone maker (which still trails Apple in the United States) is amping up its efforts to sell the Galaxy A51 in a bid to defend against Apple’s foray into the mid-range.
The Galaxy A51, which was so far available only on Verizon in the US, will now be sold (for US $399) unlocked on Samsung.com and Amazon, and will also be available through Sprint, AT&T, and Xfinity.
Pick it up without a trade-in and you’ll also get a free set of Galaxy Buds. While it remains to be seen if the Galaxy A51 can help Samsung push back against the iPhone SE, the two devices both seem to be great value.
The iPhone SE wins the CPU wars but the Galaxy A51 is no slouch
The iPhone SE is pretty much an iPhone 11’s internals packed into an iPhone 8 body. Which also means that even at the low price of US $399, you get Apple’s fastest mobile processor – the A13 Bionic chip. The A13 isn’t just more powerful than any CPU you’ll find an Android phone at the same price point, it’s also faster than the Android world’s fastest chip – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. Closer down to this price level, the competition isn’t even close – the Galaxy A51 uses the Exynos 9611, which fares around the same as flagship chips from a couple of years ago.
A close battle, we say
But the processor doesn’t tell the whole story: Samsung’s using a 6.5in 2400×1080 sAMOLED display with a 405ppi pixel density. The iPhone SE, meanwhile, has a 4.7in 1334×750 IPS display with a 326ppi density. The Galaxy A51 gets 128GB storage in the US (other markets get more options), while the iPhone SE starts off at 64GB at the same price.
As for the camera, Apple’s gone for a single-lens 12MP solution, while Samsung’s managed to fit four cameras even at this price – there’s a 48MP main camera, a 12MP for ultra-wide shots, a 5MP depth-sensing camera, and a 5MP macro. At this point, we’d like to caution readers that cameras are one aspect where the specs never tell the whole story, so we’ll need a detailed review to see whether Samsung’s newer, fancier hardware can beat out Apple’s top-notch camera tuning abilities.
There’s also a huge difference in battery capacity (4000mAh for the Samsung versus 1821mAh for the Apple), but the Samsung’s battery is also powering up a much larger display. Still, despite that and Apple’s normally optimized power consumption, the difference might just be enough to give the Galaxy A51 better endurance: Samsung claims you’ll get up to 20 hours of video playback off a charge, while Apple says the SE is good for 13 hours. Both devices also offer water-resistance (IP68 for the A51 versus IP67 for the SE), and both have fingerprint readers (old-school TouchID for the SE and an in-display scanner for the A51).